In a fascinating political development in Turkey virtually all major political parties have announced plans to fight for women’s votes. The number of women running in July’s Parliamentary election has risen from 67 in 2002 to 115 this year. The ruling AKP party is a Muslim political party which seeks to create a Turkish society and government which allows open displays of the Muslim religion, a policy that goes against the secular heritage of modern Turkey. But, in an effort to gain a large majority, the AKP is now competing with moderate secular political parties for the female vote.
There is no question Prime Minister Erdogan of the AKP wants a Turkey that is more attuned to the Muslim faith, but there is increasing evidence he does not wish to allow fundamentalists to gain power. In fact, many of the female candidates he has selected are replacing fundamentalist candidates. If Erdogan can create a democratic Turkey which respects secular rights and does not impose Sharia law upon those who prefer being secular Muslims, then the world has an excellent model of what can happen in other Muslim nations.
Turkish Daily News, June 6, 2007 “Parties Fight to Conquer Center”